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  • Shelly McLaughlin

Why Effective Harassment Training Can't Wait


The case of Milligan v Maczakk Holdings Ltd., 2023 CanLII 90442, serves as a crucial reminder of an employer's duty to provide meaningful training on sexual harassment to their managers and to implement appropriate policies. This case illustrates the significant consequences an employer can face when failing to uphold these responsibilities.

Importance of Comprehensive Training: 

This case underscores the need for employers to ensure that all managers and employees receive thorough training on sexual harassment. Such training should go beyond mere formalities; it needs to be meaningful, engaging, and practical, enabling managers to recognize, prevent, and appropriately address instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.


Creating a Safe Work Environment: 

Employers have a legal and moral obligation to foster a safe work environment. This involves not only establishing clear policies against sexual harassment but also ensuring these policies are well-communicated and understood by everyone in the organization. Managers, in particular, should be equipped to take proactive steps in maintaining this environment.


Responsibility to Act:  

Managers must know how to respond effectively and sensitively to sexual harassment complaints. This case highlights the consequences of inaction or inappropriate responses to such complaints. Employers must ensure that managers are trained to take every complaint seriously and follow through with a proper investigation and remedial action when necessary.


Legal and Financial Ramifications: 

The failure to provide adequate training and enforce effective policies can lead to significant legal and financial repercussions for employers. Cases like Milligan v Maczakk Holdings Ltd. demonstrate that courts are willing to hold employers accountable for the misconduct that occurs under their watch, especially if it results from negligence in training and policy enforcement.


Building a Culture of Respect: 

Beyond compliance, there's an overarching need for employers to cultivate a workplace culture that inherently disapproves of any form of harassment. This involves continuous efforts in training, policy updates, and open communication channels where employees feel safe to voice concerns.


Milligan v Maczakk Holdings Ltd. is a pivotal case that highlights the critical need for employers to take proactive and comprehensive steps in training their managers about sexual harassment and maintaining robust policies. Such measures are not just legal safeguards; they are essential components in building a respectful and safe working environment.

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